City Council to Consider Fiscal Year 2021–22 Recommended Operating Budget Focused on Responding to Community Needs and Reimagining City Services
On Monday, June 14 the City Council will conduct a Study Session to consider the City Manager’s Fiscal Year 2021–22 Recommended Budget, with adoption expected on June 28, 2021. The Recommended Budget focuses on responding to community needs and reimaging City services with an unwavering commitment to building a great community together.
Emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic Seeking Better Lives for All in our Community
The past year has been extraordinary. A cascade of crises — health, economic, environmental, social, civic, and political — have sparked enduring community, organizational and personal traumas. This deeply difficult period affects our community and our workforce, our City budget, and our priorities.
Since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the City has focused intently on meeting broad community needs with unprecedented efforts to provide housing, food and educational support, COVID-19 testing and vaccination opportunities, and essential aid to our business community. Now, with COVID-19 vaccinations more widely available, contributing to a low positivity rate, many aspects of community life are emerging. While we continue responding to community needs and restore a wider range of City services, we also seek to reimagine how we provide services in light of a changing future.
The Fiscal Year 2021–22 Recommended Budget is guided by the City Council’s strong financial practices which include setting aside sufficient reserves and relying on ongoing revenues for ongoing needs. As approved in February 2021, the City will use $7.5M in reserves next year to avoid disrupting crucial community services. In light of unprecedented federal support, the City can fund one-time initiatives that support multiple City Council priorities and respond to community feedback.
In light of evolving community needs and limited financial resources, Redwood City is committed to re-examining traditional practices, ingrained assumptions and established norms that might otherwise limit our vision for transforming municipal services for a new and different future. In addition to learning how to apply an equity lens to everything we do, we are reconsidering the return on investment for public funding to best serve the community from an increasingly data-driven perspective.
$7. 35 Million Dedicated to City Council Priorities for the Community
Thanks to one-time federal funds to offset lost revenue, the FY 2021–22 Recommended Budget includes one-time contributions to advance City Council priorities and respond to community input and feedback. Recommendations include increasing funding to expedite work already underway, as well as new initiatives to inject momentum into our efforts related to inclusion, diversity, accessibility and leadership in Redwood City. We thank you for being engaged!
The influx of federal funds is a rare opportunity to address historic and emerging community needs. Funding recommendations leverage outside funding and advance the City Council’s priorities including equity, sustainability, and support for vulnerable residents.
Here is a snapshot of some of the initiatives that respond to public feedback we have received:
Support for Community Members Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity
Supporting the unhoused members of our community continues to be a priority and a challenge for Redwood City. The City often hears from residents concerned about the impact of encampments on community life and from residents urging support for those currently living outdoors. Over the last three years, the City has committed an exceptional $2.5 million in City funding to support members of our community experiencing homelessness. This includes launching the successful Safe RV Parking Program and Downtown Streets Team, which you can read more about here. In addition to this considerable investment, the proposed budget includes an additional $1.0 million over two years to add civilian homeless outreach workers, establish a hotline for residents to report non-emergency issues regarding unhoused individuals without going through 9–1–1, and to examine alternatives to public safety staff interaction with homeless residents. These efforts are in addition to extensive work to meet community housing needs through an Anti-Displacement Strategic Plan, preservation of existing affordable housing, and production of new affordable housing.
A record $2.5 million is proposed to help house homeless residents and to reduce community impacts related to encampments. Next steps toward reimagining City services include expanding homeless outreach efforts by the City’s non-profit and County partners and seeking opportunities to reduce public safety interactions with homeless individuals
A total of $300,000 for vegetation management is proposed in the Recommend Budget to address the risk of local wildfires. This is double the FY 2020–21 funding level. Reducing the fuel for wildland fires is a critical tool for protecting the community as the State experiences increased fire risks.
Curb Cuts, Sidewalks and Streetlights Support Accessibility, Safety and Equity
The Recommended Budget includes $500,000 to expedite implementation of the City’s Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan, so that curb cuts and other infrastructure enhancements will improve accessibility for our entire community. Also included is $1 million over two years in additional funding for sidewalk repair, so that all neighbors in Redwood City can enjoy better walking conditions. Staff will also propose changes to the Sidewalk Repair Program to encourage improvements throughout the city.
In addition, $1.2 million is proposed over two years to fully fund streetlight replacement for greater pedestrian and vehicle safety, as well as energy conservation.
Engagement at City Council Meetings
The Recommended Budget also sets aside $100,000 to enable continued virtual participation in City Council meetings even when in-person meetings resume. Although the timeline for resuming in-person City Council meetings is not yet known, and depends on both State action and public health guidance, staff anticipate continued community interest in enabling remote participation. Currently, staff are researching platforms and approaches to support a high-quality experience for all.
The City is committed to amplifying the community’s voice and supporting systems change through partnership with City departments, community-based organizations, and community members themselves
Participatory Budget Pilot Program
Redwood City has taken several steps toward making the City budget more transparent and comprehensible to the public. In April 2021, the City launched the “Open Budget” online transparency tool, available by visiting http://www.redwoodcity.org/budgetportal. This software, provided by Redwood City company OpenGov, enables the public to interact with real time information about the City budget.
The Recommended Budget allocates $1 million for a participatory budgeting pilot program which seeks community input on use of one-time funds through online polling and other methods next year.
Climate Action Initiatives
Whenever possible, staff have attempted to align Capital Improvement Program (CIP) projects with the City’s Climate Action Plan and to implement the most environmentally friendly and cleanest technology available in order to reduce dependency on greenhouse gas emissions and promote the conservation of natural resources.
With $500,000 already dedicated for climate adaptation, the proposed budget targets an additional $100,000 for contract support in the Public Works Department for coordination of climate change and sustainability initiatives. It’s anticipated that the City’s inter-departmental Climate Adaption Team will present an update to the City Council later this fall regarding the implementation of incentive programs and strategies laid out in the Climate Action Plan.
But wait, there’s more…
The table below identifies all one-time allocations made during FY 2020–21 to address City Council priorities, as well as the $7.2 million in the FY 2021–22 Recommended Budget, and includes anticipated recommendations for FY 2022–23. In many instances, these funds build upon existing resources dedicated to these purposes in ongoing program operating budgets.
Reimagining Public Safety Services
With public safety representing more than half of the General Fund operating budget, it is essential to consider public safety as a key lever in transforming City services. In April 2021, the City hosted a community meeting on public safety budgets to begin this multi-year conversation. Preliminary budget decisions in both the Police and Fire Departments establish early steps on this journey.
Redwood City Police Department
During Redwood City’s community engagement regarding racial equity and policing in 2020, many residents called upon the City to consider alternative service delivery models, particularly related to calls involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. In response, $200,000 in City funding was committed in FY 2020–21 to a partnership with the cities of Daly City, San Mateo, South San Francisco and the County of San Mateo’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) to form a two-year Community Wellness and Crisis Response Team (CWCRT) Pilot Program. This collaboration is designed to increase the ability to directly respond to community members in mental health crisis; enhance response time for those in need of mental health services and resources; and create a broader and more effective continuum of care for individuals and families undergoing crisis. The pilot program is expected to evolve over time with the goal of reducing police response to mental health crisis calls. It will be independently evaluated by Stanford University’s Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities to assess progress toward residential stability, improved mental health, reduced use of acute and emergency services, and reduced contact with the criminal justice system.
Redwood City Fire Department
The FY 2021–22 Recommended Budget allocates $150,000 for a standards of cover study and strategic planning support in the Fire Department. This examination of services will help us to ensure the City is well positioned to support current and future community needs for fire and emergency medical services based on best practices and fiscal responsibility.
Join the Conversation
To maximize time for live public comment, we encourage members of the public to provide comments by joining the City Council meeting via Zoom.
For web, visit redwoodcity.zoom.us, select “Join” and enter Meeting ID 994 8182 5639. Use the Raise Hand feature to request to speak. You may rename your profile if you wish to remain anonymous.
For dial-in comments, call *67 (669) 900–6833 (your phone number will appear on the live broadcast if *67 is not dialed prior to the phone number), enter Meeting ID 994 8182 5639 and press *9 to request to speak.
* Los servicios de interpretación al español estarán disponibles para la reunión del Ayuntamiento del 14 de junio *
Los servicios de interpretación al español para las reuniones del Concejo Municipal están disponibles para cualquier miembro del público que lo solicite. Para solicitar interpretación al español, comuníquese con la Oficina del Secretario de la Ciudad al (650) 780–7220 o CLERK2@redwoodcity.org a más tardar a las 5:00 p.m., el viernes anterior a la reunión del Consejo para asegurarse de que haya un intérprete disponible. Si los miembros del público desean brindar comentarios públicos durante la reunión en español, notifique también a la oficina del Secretario de la Ciudad antes de la reunión.
Si bien la Ciudad históricamente ha ofrecido interpretación en vivo durante las reuniones en persona, existen limitaciones tecnológicas para realizar la traducción de idiomas a través de reuniones virtuales, por lo que la interpretación se ofrecerá a través de una línea telefónica para las reuniones.
Estas son las instrucciones para escuchar la reunión del Ayuntamiento en español:
1. Llame al (669) 900–6833
2. Ingrese el ID de la reunión: 346 830 8566
3. Ingrese la contraseña: 1017
4. Para hablar durante un comentario público, notifique al intérprete a través de la línea de conferencia al unirse a la reunión, o presione * 9 para solicitar hablar y * 6 para activar el sonido.
5. Para ver la reunión en inglés simultáneamente, puede ver la transmisión web en vivo a través de los siguientes canales:
A. Zoom en https://redwoodcity.zoom.us/ (ID de reunión: 994 8182 5639)
B. Sitio web de la ciudad en https://www.redwoodcity.org/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meetings-agendas-and-minutes
C. Canal de cable local 26, canal de Comcast 27 y canal 99 de AT&T U-Verse
Language interpretation services for City Council meetings are available to any member of the public upon request. To request this service, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (650) 780–7220 or CLERK2@redwoodcity.org no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday prior to the Council meeting to ensure the preferred language is available.
To view the meeting in English simultaneously, you can watch the live web stream via the following channels:
a. Zoom at https://redwoodcity.zoom.us/ (Meeting ID: 994 8182 5639)
b. City’s website at https://www.redwoodcity.org/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meetings-agendas-and-minutes
c. Local cable channel 26, Comcast channel 27, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99
Written public comment may be submitting by emailing the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate the corresponding agenda item in the subject line of your email.